This article will tackle these questions while exploring the top ten most expensive NFTs sold. We’ve covered NFTs extensively before. So, if you’re new to the subject, be sure to read our NFT article first to find out what makes these cryptographic tokens unique.
Fine Art, Digital Art, and NFT Art
Some of the highest-priced pieces of NFT art share familiar aesthetics with other types of art. But there are crucial differences. For instance, fine artists create with paint, brushes, and canvasses. Or they work with different mediums such as clay or concrete. Fine artists create the paintings, pottery, and sculptures we’re used to seeing in art galleries and museums.
Digital artists, on the other hand, create art on their computers with programs such as Adobe Photoshop. Because it’s digital, artists can do other things like animate their art.
Some digital artists transfer their creations to the physical world by printing them out and framing them like paintings. However, collectors are careful to distinguish between digital prints and original paintings.
Most Expensive NFT Sold – The Scarcity Factor
Scarce items cost more. On the other hand, digital prints can get reproduced ad infinitum. So, the original painting will always be worth more than digital reproductions.
Therefore, the challenge for digital artists has always been how to monetize their creations as fine artists do. The traditional way for artists to make money with digital reproductions is to sell limited edition prints. The authentication process involves the artist signing and numbering each print to create scarcity.
However, the problem with this system is that digital prints are far easier to counterfeit than original paintings. But, limited or unlimited print editions are the next best thing for collectors who can’t afford original paintings from their favorite artists.
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Digital Artists and NFTs
When collectors with fat wallets buy a piece of art, they want the bragging rights of owning the original. That’s why the challenge for digital artists has always been how to authenticate their art for on-screen use. No one will pay top dollar for a JPEG to put on their computer desktop when everyone can grab a free copy from a Google image search.
However, with NFTs, digital artists finally have a way to monetize their creations fully. The critical difference between traditional digital art and NFTs is in the code that lives on the blockchain. The code validates and authenticates a piece of art on an immutable and transparent blockchain for all to see. Finally, a digital art collector has a way to show the world that they own the “real deal”.
Most Expensive NFT Sold – #10 through #6
Exorbitant prices for NFTs followed. A digital artist named Beeple captured the public’s imagination when he sold a piece for $69.3 million in 2021. Since then, many other NFT prices have skyrocketed into millions of dollars, and we will catalog the top ten here. So, keep reading to find out which one is the most expensive NFT sold.
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#10: Ringers #109 – $6.9 Million
Art Blocks created Ringers #109. This artwork uses an algorithm to create loops around pegs. It can also morph from a static image to an interactive 3D picture.
The spirals are primarily black with a white background which are rare attributes in Art Blocks’ creations. The most distinctive feature, however, is the red peg. This color only shows up in 0.3 percent of Art Blocks.
Ringers #109 sold for close to $7 million in October 2021 and was a record-setting price for Art Blocks. Although it’s hard to verify the buyer, Crypto Times named Akira, co-founder of NarcissusGLRY, as the seller.
#9: Right-click and Save As guy – $7.09 Million
Xcopy is a London-based crypto artist known for his dystopian-themed pieces. This Londoner’s claim to fame is that he’s sold close to 2,000 artworks.
He made the NFT artwork Right-click and Save As guy to parody those who think NFTs are nothing more than JPEGs that people can right-click and download. The “guy” is a character wearing a hoodie and shades with lips constantly mumbling.
Xcopy’s NFT raised eyebrows when it sold for $7.08 million on the SuperRare marketplace in early December 2021.
An online user known as “Cozomo de Medici” with a vast storehouse of NFT digital collectibles picked up this art piece. Snoop Dogg claimed to be the mysterious Cozomo, but there is no independent verification.
#8: CryptoPunk #7804 – $7.57 Million
CryptoPunks have long been a popular favorite for NFT seekers. It’s one of the earliest NFT projects launching in 2017, and some still call it the “OG” of NFTs.
CryptoPunks is a collection of 10,000 punks. They’re actually tokens called “punks,” and each is a collectible like a trading card. Moreover, no two punks are alike. So owning a CryptoPunk is to become part of an exclusive club.
This Sherlock Holmes lookalike is one of nine “Alien punks”. It smokes a pipe and wears shades. It also is only one of 254 that wears its cap forward. #7804 made news when it brought home $7.57 million for its seller, Dylan Field, the CEO of Figma. Earlier, he anointed his collectible, a “digital Mona Lisa”.
#7: CryptoPunk #3100 – $7.58 Million
On the same date as Beeple’s big day, CryptoPunk #3100 sold for $7.58 million. It is also one of the nine Alien punks and has bluish-green skin. However, the distinguishing feature is that it wears a blue/white headband. Notably, in the collection of 10,000 CryptoPunks, only 406 wear a headband, and only 333 have a single attribute. It became the highest-priced punk at the time of sale, just edging out #7804.
#6: CryptoPunk #7523 – $11.75 Million
Sotheby’s auction sold CryptoPunk #7523 for $11.75 million on June 10, 2021. Notably, that price made it the second-most expensive CryptoPunk of the previous collections. This particular punk is also one of nine in the “Alien series” and has bluish-green skin. But it wears a knit cap with earrings and a medical mask.
Reuters revealed the buyer to be Israeli entrepreneur Shalom Meckenzie. He is the largest shareholder of DraftKings.
Most Expensive NFT Sold – #5 through #2
#5: CryptoPunk #5822 – $23.7 Million
This particular punk is also part of the Alien series collection. It also has blue-green skin but sports a blue bandana. On February 13, 2022, CryptoPunk #5822 sold for 8,000 ETH. At the sale, the conversion to USD was roughly $23.7 million. So, that makes #5822 the most expensive CryptoPunk.
The buyer is reportedly Deepak Thapliyal, the CEO of Chain, who posted a tweet of his pricey possession afterward.
#4: Human One – $28.9 Million
Mike Winklemann, better known as the acclaimed digital artist “Beeple,” created Human One. It became his second-most successful sale in the NFT space when Christie’s auction house sold it for $28.9 million to a Swiss venture capitalist named Ryan Zurrer.
Human One is a hybrid physical and digital art piece. It is a futuristic sculpture erected at seven-feet tall. With the help of four video screens, the figure appears to be perpetually walking across ever-changing 3D landscapes. The video sculpture is encased in polished aluminum with a wood frame.
Originally, Beeple designed the concoction to work on multiple TVs on rollers. But he found a better way by configuring the box unit and screens into a robust canvas.
Human One sold with a corresponding NFT minted in October 2021. What makes this physical piece unique is that it continuously displays motion. More importantly, Beeple retains remote access to it. So, he still has the creative control to change the elements on a whim. But there are no remote controls allowing Beeple to stop the continuous display of the artwork.
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#3: Clock – $52.7 Million
The artist Pak created Clock. This NFT resembles a clock and updates each day to show how long Julian Assange has been behind bars.
This provocative piece aims to raise funds to help with Assange’s legal battles. AssangeDAO (a group of over 10,000 people) pooled their money together in support of Assange.
#2: Everydays: The First 5,000 Days – $69.3 Million
This piece is the second of Beeple’s to make the most expensive NFT list. He set a record when it sold for $69 million on March 11, 2021, at a Christie’s auction. Furthermore, this price made it the highest-priced single-piece NFT.
The artwork gets its name because it’s a collage of 5,000 individual images Beeple created over thirteen years. It’s a record of each piece of art he made each day from 2007 to 2020.
Beeple’s effort on this artwork is quite different from his work on Human One. For instance, Everydays does not have a physical counterpart. It is strictly a digital piece. It was also the first digital NFT-based artwork carried by a major auction house – Christie’s. After selling it, Christie’s auction house proclaimed Beeple one of the “top three most valuable living artists”.
This time, a different lucky buyer stepped up – crypto investor Vignesh Sundaresan (a.k.a. MetaKovan). He later called the selling price “a steal”. Only time will tell if he’s a fortunate buyer who got a “steal” or someone with an overpriced JPEG who will never be able to unload it.
While opinions vary on that subject, one thing is for sure. Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5,000 Days continues to get the credit for starting the NFT boom in 2021. The sale also launched Beeple’s career into the stratosphere and opened the doors to future collaborations with big brands such as Nike.
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Most Expensive NFT Sold
#1: The Merge – $91.8 Million
NFTs are unique by nature. However, The Merge takes it further because it is fragmented art rather than the typical JPEG.
The previously mentioned artist named Pak also created The Merge, and the Nifty Gateway marketplace sold it in December 2021 for a record of $91.8 million.
However, no single individual owns The Merge. Rather, close to 29,000 people collectively purchased it in units called “mass”. So, the collectors bought 266,445 masses. A single mass cost $575 when the sale started, with the price increasing by $25 every six hours until the masses sold out.
So, The Merge is our winner. This piece of digital art is the most expensive NFT sold at the time of writing.
Most Expensive NFT Sold – Honorable Mentions
Besides the top ten, other honorable mentions are hovering very close to the top price points.
Crossroad by Beeple – $6.6 Million
This NFT is a short film that shows people walking past a fallen body covered in graffiti scribble. Beeple’s art continues to get mad respect because it’s different than the typical static JPEG or animated GIF customarily seen.
A Coin for the Ferryman – $6.01 Million
This NFT is one of Xcopy’s earliest works. Xcopy minted it on April 20, 2018, and an online user named @0xclipse bought it for $139. A user named @electricmeat obtained it next and eventually sold it on SuperRare to @jpeggy for a little over $6 million on November 4, 2021.
Most Expensive NFT Sold – Summary
With how NFT prices are going, it seems like it is only a matter of time before a piece fetches over $100 million. The question is, how high can the prices go?
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